TV Ad Evolution
This film is going to be broken up into 24 one-minute segments and shown as ads on programs like Fox’s 24. It’s a smart idea, that’s buzzworthy, and if done well, is likely to engage the viewer and help both advertiser and broadcaster and perhaps if the content is so good, shouldn’t Fox be paying Nissan or at least discount the airtime?
This is a good point. The rigid sructures of broadcast mean that everything comes in one size: 30 seconds [or thereabouts]. Some variety would be good especially in an increasingly PVR [or DVR] enabled world where people can fast forward through ads. I’ve written on the PVR/advertising issue before stating that marketers need engage the audience far more rather than treat them as captives. More flexible TV media buying would help or at least an investment on the part of the broadcaster in making ‘watchable’, engaging TV – after all they’d be saving on the cost of programming.
One of the major precedents to the Nissan project was Volvo. The success of the Volvo ads from last year including it’s ‘mockumentary’ and the "life on board" project is illuminating. The ‘mockumentary’ concerned a town in Sweden where the same 32 people got the same car on the same day [the S40]. Volvo set up a scam site puporting to be that of the filmmaker. You just didn’t know whether it was by Volvo or not i.e. whether it was ‘real’ or not:
"We decided we were going to be very confronting and very, very, provocative," he said. "We were going to go away from anything we would think could be considered vanilla marketing.
"The whole idea was to blur the lines between reality and fiction. The company saw this as a huge risk and a lot of people in our company were not willing to take that risk. We could have been seen as telling people we were liars. It absolutely could have gone either way."
Ultimately it was because the bosses at Volvo and Ford’s Premier Auto Group, which owns Volvo, supported the approach that the idea got up. And the results?
"The big answer is: we sold out… Our biggest problem is we don’t have any cars." From the Sydney Morning Herald
They were brave with what was a truly 360 degree, multi-platform campaign. Clearly Volvo consider off and on-line marketing as symbiotic – they complement each other in above and below-the-line engagement with the audience. A £7 million investment in the "life on Board" project – a film based campaign on CD-ROM and web featuring ordinary people talking about overcoming difficulties in their lives – testifies to Volvo’s belief in the Internet [New Media Age sub req’d].
See also: Volvo campaign at ad-land